Good and Evil since the Beginning
One important question to ask is this: are being perfect and being sinless the same thing? I think that this is a very interesting question with a very encouraging answer that will help you better grasp what sinlessness and perfection truly are. In order to explain this properly, I like to look at Adam and Eve and ask the same questions: before the fall of man, when Adam and Eve ate the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, were Adam and Eve sinless? Obviously, the answer here is yes because sin hadn’t been introduced into them until they ate the fruit.
Now comes the more interesting question: were Adam and Eve perfect before the fall? There is a less obvious but clear answer to this question that can be deduced by looking at the facts of what happened. Remember, perfection means that someone has come to full maturity; they are a full-grown individual with discernment and understanding. A perfect man walks uprightly and is righteous, and the wicked one does not touch him because he cannot touch him. Therefore, I would easily argue that Adam and Eve were not perfect before they ate from the tree because they were not mature enough to discern the evil of the serpent. Their lack of maturity and understanding is what caused them to fall into deception. In other words, the wicked one was able to touch them, proving imperfection in their discernment and wisdom.
You might be wondering, how is this encouraging? It seems as though a lack of perfection will cause us to slip and fall into sin. The reason this is encouraging is because there is a growing period for every born-again individual. Just as children who are born must grow into adulthood, in the same way, a reborn person spiritually must grow into the maturity of the faith as well! In the same way a seed planted must have time to grow before it bears fruit, we must expect growth to occur before we will reach our full potential and be full-grown, which the Bible calls perfection. Adam and Eve clearly were not fully grown in the Lord, but nevertheless, everything that was made on the earth before the fall was still considered good by God.
Therefore, the encouragement is that we can all give ourselves space and time to grow into deeper understanding with God, because that is His will for us, but we must realize that there is a point when we are expected to be all grown-up! And we don’t have to wait for our life in heaven to get there! God fully expects perfection (i.e., maturity) in our lives on earth as believers. Do you know that everywhere in the New Testament where Jesus and Paul refer to maturity, it is the same, exact word in the original Greek as perfection, just translated differently? The verses below show that maturity/perfection is expected of us, so let’s try to get used to the idea of getting there. Deal?
- “Now the [seeds] that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity [or perfection/full growth/fruitfulness]” Luke 8:14.
- “However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature [or perfect/full-grown], yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing” 1 Corinthians 2:6.
- “Brethren, do not be children in understanding; however, in malice be babes, but in understanding be mature [or perfect/full-grown/adult men]” 1 Corinthians 14:20.
- “Therefore let us, as many as are mature [or perfect/full-grown], have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you” Philippians 3:15.